Cinderford claimed a bonus point victory over Henley Hawks in a highly entertaining mid-table encounter between two of the teams relegated from National League One last season.
Their previous meetings have usually been close and fairly scoring affairs and this once again proved to be as the match remained in the balance right up until the final whistle. The visitors opened the scoring with just three minutes on clock, when their opponents were penalised for a lineout infringement and scrum-half George Jackson stepped up to slot the ball between the posts. The Forest of Dean side were soon back on level terms however, when Henley strayed offside in front of their own posts and outside-half James Moffat was on target with his kick at goal.
A second attempt at the posts from Moffat drifted wide before the Hawks regained the lead, when prop forward Bradley Cook was initially held up over the try line but he managed to get the ball to ground and be awarded the score, which Jackson excellently converted from the touchline. Hawks second-row Dave Clements was then shown a yellow card for a high tackle and after a long period of sustained pressure, Cinderford eventually took advantage of the extra man when winger Harry Robinson took an inside pass from Moffat, and although he was brought to ground short of the line he was not held, and regained his feet to go over near the posts, with Moffat converting to once again level the scores. In added time at the end of the first-half it was the turn of Cinderford to concede a penalty in front of their own posts and Jackson made no mistake with the kick to give his side 13-10 advantage at the interval.
Moffat was off target with an early attempt at goal for the home team when the second-half got underway, but he soon made amends with his second penalty. Hawks forwards and backs then combined to enable Jackson to cross for a try, which he also converted, as the visitors regained the lead in the 47th minute. Back came Cinderford, and when replacement prop Ciaran Knight forced his way over for a try, which Moffat again converted to level the scores at 20-20, it was all to play for going into the final ten minutes.
Yellow cards for opposing props George Porter and Zaki Chamnaoui then led to uncontested scrums being called and it was Cinderford who finished the stronger side, with Robinson going over for his second try, before the ball was re-cycled through numerous phases to allow Alex Frame to cross for the bonus point try. There was still time for Jackson to land his third penalty to bring Hawks back within seven points, but the home side had done enough to earn their victory.
Cinderford; Eamonn Rees, Alex Frame, Elliot Creed, Sam Goatley, Harry Robinson, James Moffat, Jimmy Williams George Porter (Capt.), Will Haly, James Tideswell, Adam Balding, Ed King, Will Keenan, Dan Broady, Aaron Ryan.
Replacements; Ciaran Knight, Chris Rovery, Dale Lemon, Luke McMahon, Clive Stuart-Smith.